( Recent incidents about nude photographs of female celebrities being “leaked” have prompted me to write this piece but it isn’t necessarily restricted to just this incident. )
I read tweets about nude photographs of female celebrities being “leaked” on an online forum and my first reaction was, “What’s the big deal? Celebrities also have regular female bodies only probably fitter.”
It wasn’t difficult to find the photographs mentioned in all the “breaking news” proclamations. I couldn’t see controvery in those images. Regular female bodies just as I’d expected. Which led me to wonder what the furore was about. In trying to understand the situation, I’ve read more than a dozen pieces containing opinions ranging from those that blame the victim “Why take nude selfies anyway?” to those that call for stricter privacy laws. ( Which is another reason I didn’t write about this earlier – I wasn’t confident about knowing all the angles to the story and general reactions to it. )
The best thing I read in all the pieces was this line, “BREAKING: beneath their clothes, celebrities are naked.” from the Guardian “The Great Naked Celebrity Photo Leak of 2014 is just the beginning ” piece by Roxane Gay. Somewhat what my first reaction was but articulated a whole lot better.
I don’t understand why a multitude of people, behind Internet anonymity, are reacting to these images by masturbating to them like they’ve never seen a naked body previously. ( Men and women both masturbate to freely availably pornography on the Internet and these photographs are low-quality, grainy, full-of-noise and probably shot on a mobile-phone. I’ve thought about how sensuality is in the brain and not in the genitals and visuals but it isn’t a simple matter of compartmentalizing how we process sexual pleasure. In all cases of sexual arousal, there needs to be a combination of intent + activity. Ideally without coercion. )
The vile comments in response to some celebrity reactions indicate vicious, harmful and cowardly people. I can understand it must be liberating to be able to vent and say vile things about a stranger on the Internet. I believe many people masturbate to that more than naked pictures of living things. Intimidation and terrorism using sexuality and gender are what bother me the most, personally. Regardless of whether it is physical assault or emotional assault via the Internet, it is a play for power and control. The phrase that constantly comes to mind is ,”To put them in their place.”
I like looking at my naked body. It has taken me a long time to fall in love with my body with all it’s perceived imperfections. To make an attempt to separate the real from the imagined and the conditioned takes a focused and conscious effort. To be able to finally accept my body as it is and to then have to hide it because it is socially unacceptable to walk around naked, is not something I prefer. ( Which is one of the reasons I so adore the #FreeTheNipple campaign ).
Till the 1930’s even men were considered obscene / indecent if they went topless. ( This is a data point from American culture, Indian culture has been a lot more diverse and confused. ) To be fair, I like looking at men’s tits as much as I like looking at women’s tits. It is unfortunate that I can’t ogle at women’s tits as openly though. It is only a matter of time, I hope, that I will be able to not only photograph myself nude but also share those photographs on the Internet without having to worry about being prosecuted for “obscenity”. ( If we really did stick to that form of prosecution, why aren’t all newborns in jail? )
I am not going to talk about fame ( it’s a privilege ) and privacy ( it’s an illusion ).
Looking forward to the day when I can walk out of my home and I don’t have to continually check over my shoulder for someone following me with the intent of rape / molestation / harm. Post that, I will look forward to the day I can post nude selfies without being asked to justify the “why”.
Beauty is subjective and I believe it is to be enjoyed. I just wish it didn’t have to mean that someone is being harmed in any way in that process of enjoyment. If Jennifer Lawrence had shared her nude selfies on her own, that would have been cool ( maybe not in the current state of society we live in though ). Someone else criminally hacking into her private storage account and then not only sharing but selling the images ( if you stop buying, if this isn’t news anymore, then maybe such crimes will abate ) without her permission is not cool.
If a woman bares her tits of her own volition, it’s “You’re seeking attention.”
If someone else does it for her, “Who takes nude selfies anyway?”
Fuck equal rights, I want equal power.